They come in bunches.
And we’ve been getting bunches of questions from
readers asking pretty much the same thing. So
I’m answering them in emails rather than
One of the most common questions this month has
Q. What do you think about doing cardio? Will it
interfere with my strength training? Strength
and power is all that’s important to me.
Well, let’s see. Will cardio interfere with your
Absolutely – if you do the WRONG kind of cardio --
or you do too much cardio -- or do it too often.
Don’t expect to run a marathon and do a heavy
squat workout the next day.
But the RIGHT kind of cardio can be a huge help
to your training – and it can be an even bigger
boost to your health and fitness.
The key, of course, is not to overdo things. Start
slow, start easy, and build up gradually. And
balance your strength training and your cardio
so you get good results from both, without doing
too much and wearing yourself down.
Some of the best advice I ever read came from an
old course written by Bruno Sammartino, the
Heavyweight Wrestling Champion of the World back
in the 60’s and 70’s.
Sammartino was a massively muscled, enormously
powerful athlete. He stood six feet tall, weighed
265 pounds, and sported a 56” chest, 36” waist,
20” arms, 21” neck and 30” thighs.
He performed a pushup with a 600-pound wrestler
(Haystacks Calhoun) seated on his back.
He bench pressed 565 pounds – which was an unofficial
world record “back in the day.”
So Bruno Sammartino was a certified, bona-fide and
iron-fied strength and bulk monster – but in his
training course, he advocated a three-part program:
1. Strength training
Bruno advocated strength training 3x per week. Five
barbell exercises for 3 x 6 reps plus sit-ups for
1 x 20 – 30. Basic barbell movements like squat,
bench press, etc.
Bruno advocated calisthenics 2x per week – pull-ups,
push-ups, deep knee bends and isometric exercises
for the neck and calf. Work up to 2 x 15 on the
pull-ups and 2 x 100 on the push-ups and deep knee
3. Slow running
In addition to the barbell work and the calisthenics,
Bruno urged his students to do some slow running (aka
jogging) 2x per week.
“This ends our Course, except I want to say something
about running, which I consider the best exercise for
developing wind and stamina. Even though I am a big
man weighing 265 pounds, I find time to jog or trot
a mile or a mile and a half along the beach in the
summer or in the gym in the winter.
Although I do not insist you do any running in this
course, I would advise you to do so if you are looking
forward to making any athletic teams in school.
You should do your running after you have completed
Course No. 2 [the calisthenics course] on your two
light days, or on your way to school or back.
Again, work up to it – just jog (no fast running) ½
block at first and gradually lengthen it until you
are jogging or trotting a mile.
If you want to skip the running while doing the course
for a year because of inconvenience it is o.k. but
keep it in mind for later; for as you grow older you
will want to have a good heart and normal blood
pressure and this slow running is the No. 1 best
to keep the heart and circulatory system at top
Now, that was written almost 50 years ago, but it’s
still darn good advice.
The only additional points I would add are this:
1. If you’re over the age of 35 or unusually heavy,
get your doctor’s o.k. before doing any kind of
2. For older lifters and heavier lifters, there are
low impact types of cardio that may work better for
you than jogging or running, which can be awfully
hard on your knees, hips, ankles and feet.
As I detail in Gray Hair and Black Iron, there are
many ways to get a really good cardio workout with
barbells and dumbbells – or with sandbags. These
workouts are quick, fun and effective – and you can
do them at home with inexpensive equipment – and
they’re very easy on your joints.
But whatever you do, don’t skip your cardio training –
especially if you’re an older lifter. It’s really
important for good health.
Remember, strength is important – but so is good
health. And cardio work is critical for life-long
health and fitness.
Thanks for reading, and if you train today – make
it a good one!
Yours in strength,
P.S. For more details on cardio training for
strength athletes, grab a copy of Gray Hair
and Black Iron:
P.S. 2 My other books and courses are right
Views 638 Comments 2
|06-30-2014, 04:44 PM||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2011
Training Exp: 20 Years
Training Type: Powerbuilding
Fav Exercise: Squat & Deadlift
Fav Supp: Collagen
I put the concept of cardio and strength training together years ago, and I am now reaping the benefits of it, as an older lifter. The article is right - conditioning is crucial to cardiovascular health, and lifting always follows health as a mature lifter.
My Favorite Part Of Lifting Is Having The Opportunity
Meet PR's: (May 2014) Raw Natural
Squat 475 lbs
Bench: 286 lbs
Deadlift: 501 lbs
Total: 1262 lbs
Squat: 495 lbs
Bench: 300 lbs
Deadlift: 520 lbs/500X5
Total: 1315 Lbs
|06-30-2014, 10:31 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jan 2014
Training Exp: not long enough!
Fav Exercise: deadlifts
Fav Supp: Chocolate milk
Glad to read this!
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